Gary Johnson slams both Obama and Santorum on gay rights, will appear in Grapevine in Feb.

Gary Johnson

For those who’ve been watching the GOP presidential debates on TV and wishing they could attend one in person, here’s your chance. Well, sorta. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Texas Libertarian Party will host a presidential debate in Grapevine on Feb. 25. The debate is open to the public, and among the candidates who’ve confirmed their participation is former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Johnson dropped out of the Republican race last month and filed as a libertarian. And, unlike some other so-called libertarians who are still seeking the GOP nomination, Johnson actually supports same-sex marriage. In fact, Johnson sent out a press release just the other day in which he managed to slam both President Barack Obama and anti-gay GOP candidate Rick Santorum for their positions on LGBT equality (alas, “at least [Santorum] is consistent”). We’re not sure why Johnson left out Ron Paul, but here’s an excerpt:

“Rick Santorum’s position is unconstitutional. The Constitution requires that all citizens be treated equally and makes no reference to gender in assuring those equal rights,” said Johnson. “By any fair measure, equal access to marriage for all Americans is a right — guaranteed by the Constitution. Senator Santorum’s claim that legally recognizing gay marriage would be no different than legalizing polygamy, child molestation or bestiality is repugnant and insulting to millions of gay Americans,” said the former New Mexico Governor.

Johnson had equally harsh criticism for President Barack Obama. “The New York Times reports that while President Obama gives lip service to gay equality, the President will not support gay marriage before the election because of the opposition of African Americans, as reflected in his polling, and the need to assure maximum support from African American voters in November,” said Johnson. “Instead the President sends out surrogates to imply that he will support gay marriage in a second term.

“President Obama did the same kind of dance around the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’. He promised to repeal it in his campaign, then dragged his feet on repealing it as President, even sending the Justice Department’s lawyers into court to defend it. Then when ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was finally repealed by Congress, he claimed victory and a promise fulfilled.

“As for Rick Santorum, at least he is consistent. He not only opposed the repeal of DADT, he has promised to return our military to the Dark Ages and reinstate it, and claims that repealing such a discriminatory policy has somehow been ‘detrimental’ to gays.

“I, for one, am tired of seeing candidates for president – including the President himself, play political games with people’s lives and happiness. Perhaps it’s time for a president who leads based upon principle instead of polls,” he said.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Slavery dropped from ‘Marriage Vow’; Presbyterian Church celebrates gay clergy

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is the only major GOP presidential candidate who’s spoken out against the Family Leader’s “Marriage Vow.”

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The “Marriage Vow” pledge that a right-wing Iowa group is asking presidential candidates to sign continues to make headlines. Over the weekend, the group, called the Family Leader, removed a portion of the pledge’s preamble which suggested blacks were better off during slavery. But this wasn’t before GOP candidates Michele Bachmann — who, alarmingly, leads one recent Iowa poll — and Rick Santorum had already signed the pledge, which also says homosexuality is a choice and calls for banning all pornography. Thus far, only one GOP presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, has spoken out against the pledge, although Jon Huntsman has also confirmed he won’t sign it.

2. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s new policy allowing ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians took effect Sunday. Many congregations marked the change with a national day of prayer organized by More Light Presbyterians, which pushes for LGBT equality within the church. The 2.8 million member Presbyterian Church joins other Protestant denominations including the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in allowing gay clergy.

3. Six police officers have been fired for lying about what happened during a September 2009 raid of the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. More officers face hearings this week following the release of a 343-page report showing they lied or destroyed evidence in the wake of the raid. Eight men were arrested during the raid, but charges were dropped and the city later paid the men more than $1 million to settle a federal lawsuit.

—  John Wright

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson could be another pro-marriage GOP presidential candidate

Gary Johnson

Former Republican New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (1995-2003) will run for president, according to the best source for Republican news, Fox News.

Fox reports that Johnson, who favors same-sex marriage, abortion rights and legalizing marijuana, will skip forming an exploratory committee and announce his candidacy by the end of April.

Johnson doesn’t sound like a Republican. He has said, “I don’t think you’ll ever hear me invoking God in anything I do.” He said he doesn’t listen to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

On Arizona’s immigration law, he said it would lead to racial profiling. And of the 10-foot wall being built across parts of the border with Mexico, he said, “A 10-foot wall requires an 11-foot ladder.” He also said Iraq and Afghanistan do not threaten our security and we shouldn’t be there.

So why is Johnson running as a Republican? His main issue is the economy. He believes in slashing spending and his four main targets are Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense.

The only announced candidate for the Republican nomination as of the end of March was Fred Karger, who is openly gay and created Californians Against Hate to oppose Prop 8 in California.

Johnson’s strategy is similar to Karger’s, which is to win in the first primary and caucus states — New Hampshire and Iowa — both of which have same-sex marriage.

Anti-gay candidates like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have not announced their intentions. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has opened an exploratory committee, and GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann reportedly plans to. Meanwhile, Donald Trump said he can’t announce his candidacy until the end of the current season of Celebrity Apprentice. At least if Trump wins, we’ll always know where his priorities are — with his employers at defense contractor and NBC-owner GE.

—  David Taffet